Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Solo

Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and crew board the Falcon for the first time.

I doubt I was alone in having a bad feeling about this film. For starters (as a kid I know told me), it is hard seeing anyone but Harrison Ford in the role of Han Solo, one of the most popular characters the galaxy has offered us. Yet director Ron Howard’s  Solo: A Star Wars Story does offer us places of the galaxy we have not seen before, plus some truly remarkable new visuals that make me just able to recommend it.

Alden Ehrenreich does what he can to play the young version of Han, who we learn tried to escape his home planet with his girl Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). He succeeds but she is left behind, leaving him to try to enlist in the Empire in order to get a ship to come back and save her. Years later, he meets up with Beckett (Woody Harrelson), who is working to get supplies back for Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). Thandie Newton stars as Beckett’s girl Val, and we also meet a young Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover.

Bettany does play a decent villain (yet in all Star Wars films, it is impossible to stack up to Vader). There is some nice chemistry between Ehrenreich and Clarke. Yet there are two casting choices that stand above the rest. It seems to make the best of sense to have someone like Harrellson as the guy who would take Han Solo under his wing, and show him the ropes. Still, the scene stealer is Glover’s Lando. It is truly like looking at a young Billy Dee Williams that it is almost scary.

The second half of the film is where the force is truly strong (though that word is never mentioned). The first half is by the books, not really anything fancy (save for that train scene, and the intro of Chewbacca). The ultimate part of the film is the segment on the mining planet (too hard to explain why the movie leads us there). The visuals of the second half of the film are nothing short of breathtaking.

Parents, if your kids have seen a Star Wars film, they would be ok with this one. It is PG-13, but a soft one.

There is one point in the second half, however, that I am afraid is the big blunder of the film. There is a quick cameo appearance from a character that, while unexpected, does not make sense in the Star Wars timeline. Nevertheless, I do admit to liking this film better than Rogue One.

 

Overall: Three Stars ***

Me Before You (2016)

Me Before You

A nice date idea for the characters in “Me before You”.

I have a hunch that whoever is reading this review is interested in one thing, and one thing only: Did I cry during Me before You?  I can confidently say I did not cry at all.

That is not to say I am not one to cry at certain movies (I did feel my eyes get wet during The Fault in our Stars, a far better film). The problem is that the characters in Me before You make decisions that seem unrealistic to their characteristics (mainly the character of Lou Clark).

Lou Clark (played nicely by Emilia Clarke) is a decent, soft hearted young woman who still lives at home with her parents and older sister. Ever since her parents have lost their jobs, Lou has decided to stay behind to be with them, despite dashing what dreams she may have had. She is dating Patrick (Matthew Lewis), who is more obssessed with running than he is with her.

One day, she gets a new job working for a very (and I mean very) wealthy family. After meeting with Camilla (Janet McTeer) and Stephen Traynor (Charles Dance), she becomes the new care taker of their son Will (Sam Claflin), who was recently paralyzed after a motorcycle accident. Sorry, but no points on guessing whether or not they fall in love.

Clarke and Claflin have fine chemistry as the sweet innocent girl trying to help the hard heart in a wheel chair. Really, none of the actors are at fault here. There is also a few pieces of fine imagery that would work, but not in a movie like this where the story takes every wrong turn possible. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say we are supposed to feel some form of either happiness for a specific character, or some form of sadness. The feeling I felt was more of a betrayal.

Parents, there is no real nudity of any kind, though some revealing clothing. There is some swearing, but nothing the local middle schooler would not have heard. If they saw movies like The Fault in our Stars or The Notebook, then they are fine here.

The movie was based off the book by Jojo Moyes, who also does the screenplay. I did not read the book, and have cemented my status in saying I won’t anytime in the future. There are good romantic films that can make you cry (I already mentioned The Fault in our Stars and The Notebook, but there is also A Walk to Remember, Love Story, and even going back to the Chaplin masterpiece City Lights, though it is more of a comedy). Me before you is far from those films.

I end by saying this is the first movie I ever went to that I was the only one in the theater. I guess others learned about the movie before hand.

Overall: One and a Half Stars * 1/2